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  • Plain packaging claims up in smoke: study

    Author: AAP

The Cancer Council says new research shows the tobacco industry's major arguments against Australia's plain packaging reforms have gone up in smoke.

New research shows the switch to plain packaging for tobacco products has not triggered a rise in illegal tobacco use, the Cancer Council says.

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It also says the change has not driven business away from small retailers and has not prompted smokers to switch to cheaper Asian-imported brands.

"This research suggests that none of these scaremongering scenarios the tobacco industry predicted as part of its bid to stop plain packaging in Australia have eventuated," Quit Victoria policy manager Kylie Lindorff said on Friday.

"As Big Tobacco desperately tries to misrepresent the impact of plain packaging in Australia to try to stop the dominoes falling in the UK and beyond, this research yet again underscores why you can't believe a word this industry says."


Cancer Council Victoria commissioned the study, which is published in the medical journal BMJ Online.

Researchers compared data from the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Victorian Smoking and Health surveys and found little change in smoker purchasing patterns regarding legal and black-market tobacco products after the December 2012 introduction of plain packaging.

The Australian Association of Convenience Stores disputes the Cancer Council's assertion that plain packaging has had no impact on small retailers.

"The cost burdens associated with additional staff training, labour, product handling errors, increased inventory management procedures and customer frustration have been substantial," chief executive Jeff Rogut said.

A study released in July showed fewer Australians are smoking after the introduction of plain packaging as well as steady rises in tobacco prices.

The nation's percentage of daily smokers dropped from 15.1 per cent to 12.8 per cent between 2010 and 2013.

The next tobacco tax hike, of 12.5 per cent, takes effect on September 1.

It is the second of four annual tax increases on tobacco - the combined impact to increase tobacco taxes by 60 per cent on cigarettes by December 2016.


* Proportion who buy from supermarkets stable (just more than 65 pct) from 2011 to 2013

* Those who buy from small mixed-business retailers increased (from 9.2 pct to 11.2 pct)

* Proportion who smoke low-cost Asian brands down (from 1.1 pct to 0.9 pct)

* Those who smoke unbranded illicit tobacco down (from 2.3 pct to 1.9 pct)

* 1.7 pct of cigarette smokers reported buying from an informal seller during 2013.

Factbox source: Cancer Council Victoria-commissioned study published in BMJ Online.

Copyright AAP 2014


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